A Sentimental Education

Note: The above video is silent.

Almost hot on the heels of my discipline post comes this one.

I’m a reserved person. So while I talk about certain subjects with candor, on another level, there are some things which I won’t discuss, partly because I have trouble articulating them, and partly because I want to leave them unarticulated.

The purpose of this post is to allow myself to think out loud, put some feelings and observations into words, so that they become more concrete for me by being written. As the saying in Latin goes: Verba volant, (littera) scripta manet. Roughly — Spoken words fly, written words remain.

I continue on my journey of a sentimental education. But I think I can say, at 43, that I’ve reached a foothold on this challenging cliff I’m climbing, at least for a little while.

I was brought up Catholic. I am no longer a practicing Catholic. But I can say that certain things about what is, for all intensive purposes, an outdated sense of morality inherent in the idea of being involved with only one person romantically, suits me. What suits me about this is something I’ve discovered through an examination and testing of who I am. I won’t pretend that I know everything about myself, that would be foolish, or that more tests and lessons don’t await me. However, in a very dramatic and painful fashion, I’ve found out something central to who I am echoes an aspect of something in the things I was taught growing up with this particular religion.

I was also very inclined to read literature of the 19th century growing up, the classical music most often heard in my house was from this era too. How did this shape my conception of the relationship between a woman and a man? Imagination-wise, an all-consuming obsession. Two people who hold themselves incredibly close, intertwined. An intense desire to give everything, even your very soul, to your beloved.

Well, some things had to hit the road along the journey of my sentimental education up to this point. First, the realization that the Catholic institution, with its attitudes toward women and sex, does not work for me. I strongly disagree. Out the window, Catholic institution, you are misogynist and view sex as a necessary evil. Pooh to that.

Nineteenth century novels? Merging with your significant other? No. Wrong. If you lose yourself in only wanting to satisfy the desires of your lover, you lose your mind. No one can ever merge with anyone else. It’s a mystical ideal, and it’s beautiful, but it isn’t earthly, and has no place in human relationships. Save it for your idea of God And Heaven. And Things You Cannot Understand But Feel And Know Are Real.

So what did I pick up from these hugely influential elements in my early life? What did I keep now that I knew what I had to discard? What did I find out about myself that suits me, that has something in common with these things?

First, I acknowledge my earthly side. And it is ok to have an earthly side. It is normal, it is human. I am not a nun, and never will be. I definitely belong in the secular world.

Second, I am an intense person, and when I get involved with someone, I can’t think of anyone else. I want to go as deep as possible, and this applies to anything that captures my interest. I can’t do surface, or not for long anyway. I may not believe that people can merge, but I believe that two people connecting deeply, over a long period of time, can eventually have a kind of relationship that is extraordinary, spiritually speaking.

Which I suppose, is why I am married. I’m more of a marathon runner, not a sprinter. The experience of marriage, this biblical institution requiring that two people stay together till death separates them, and stay only with one another, is damn difficult sometimes. The mundane and the romantic don’t mix well, the latter tends to be most exciting when you know less, when there is much more mystery. But then, people are actually always mysterious. You can never really know everything about someone. If you think you do, then that person is not for you, because you won’t keep following, trying to find out. You’ll get bored. And that doesn’t work for me, anyway. Boredom means I move on.

Lastly, I think it’s fine that people are not like me. That’s the beauty of life, the diversity. If some other style of relating to the opposite sex fits you better than mine, and it works (as well as anything works for us blind, stupid and stumbling humans), then wonderful. What’s key is respect for self-knowledge, and the process that everyone goes through to understand that self better. We are all alike in this way, none of us is superior to another.

Post Script: As evidence of my mental decay, a fact: it was recently pointed out to me that I am in fact, 44 (and have been since September of 2011). You know you’re in denial when you get stuck on an age and everything becomes a blur after that. ha ha ha ha ha (and yes, I really am laughing at the absurdity of this, and the absurdity of being me)

Every Thursday

 

 

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